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Car FYI's 2021 Electrified Haulers Showcase: Freightliner eCascadia and eM2

Photo Credit: Daimler AG

Nearing 80 years as a constructor of commercial trucks, Freightliner has a history for being an innovative name in the industry for heavy, work-duty vehicles. Starting with the creation of their first truck incorporating an all-aluminum cab, the brand is linked to pioneering the use of liquefied propane, the four-wheel drive Mountaineer tractor and more recently vehicle connectivity through factory-installed telematics. Freightliner’s Cascadia class 8 truck lineup has reflected much of the company’s current commitment to contemporary hauling since its introduction in 2007 featuring a lightweight, aerodynamic design as well as various cost-saving maintenance characteristics. Following the large vehicle’s debut, the Cascadia has been a frequent recipient of enterprising updates such as an optional in-cab exercise system and a technological productivity suite called Detroit Connect.

In a project first seeing the light of day in 2018, Freightliner chose the Cascadia heavy-duty platform as well as the M2 medium-duty truck lineups as candidates for evaluating battery-electric powertrains. After extensive testing that involved customer-partners Penske Truck Leasing and transportation and logistics provider NFI, the popular truck builder recently opened orders for the eCascadia and the eM2.

Freightliner’s upcoming heavy-duty electric truck model, the eCascadia achieves short-range, emission-free hauling without compromises in key areas. With a GCWR (Gross Combination weight rating) of 82,000 pounds, the Freightliner eCascadia can put in a hard-working day’s work expected from a Class 8 truck. The eCascadia’s performance source comes from an eAxle assembled in either a single or tandem layout. The electric eAxle technology is supplied by the company that has long been known as Detroit Diesel Corporation now producing the drivetrains appearing destined to propel the future of transport trucks. Power output for the Freightliner eCascadia will be between 360 and 525 horsepower. Up to 23,000 lb-ft of torque is available to the driver of the electric transport truck.

Photo Credit: Freightliner/Daimler Trucks North America LLC.

Incorporating the Cascadia family’s trademark modern, aerodynamic shape, the Freightliner eCascadia’s most distinguishing feature is the battery packs located around the place a fuel tank would be located. Available with battery packs capable of holding up to 475 kilowatt-hour of energy, the eCascadia can travel up to 250 miles (402.3 kilometers) on a single electric charge. Recharging of the truck’s battery packs to an 80-percent level can be done in 90 minutes.

Measuring 391 inches in length, the Freightliner eM2 will utilize a box truck design with a GVWR recorded between 26,000 and 33,000 pounds. As is the case with the eCascadia, the eM2 will be available in different horsepower outputs. A performance range between 180 and 300 horsepower is offered on the battery-electric medium-duty truck supplied exclusively through a single eAxle system. With a maximum capacity of 315 kilowatt-hour, the Freightliner eM2's driving range is rated at 230 miles (370.15 kilometers).

Photo Credit: Freightliner/Daimler Trucks North America LLC.

Since August 2019, the Freightliner battery-electric trucks have been undergoing real-world development and examination. In November of 2020, Freightliner boasted completing 500,000 miles (804,672 kilometers) of real-world testing with their fleet of 38 eCascadia and eM2 trucks. This real-world evaluation is now advertised at more than 800,600 miles (1,288,440.8 kilometers) being actively tracked on the Freightliner website for both models.

After extensive testing of their battery-electric vehicles, Freightliner has recently opened orders for their eCascadia and eM2 models at the beginning of April. Before the announcement last month, Canadian grocery giant Loblaw Companies Ltd. committed to ordering five eCascadia trucks last September. The first two examples of the electrified Freightliner vehicles were initially expected to be part of the company’s fleet in early 2022 but the production start for the battery-electric truck has recently been slated for late 2022.


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